Friday, December 26, 2014

Back to the Tortolitas

Christmas Day we went back up to the Tortolitas.  This time we did the Lower Javelina trail.  It's a very nice loop.  It has some up down, but is not as steep as Upper Javelina.  It was a very enjoyable walk.  We love that area, it is so pretty and quiet.  It makes us feel very peaceful when we're out there.

It's a long drive, but hey, it was Christmas!
Our timing was perfect.  When we arrived at the parking lot the clouds thinned out and it warmed up a little.  Then, during the last five minutes returning to the truck, the clouds rolled back in, the wind came up and the temperature dropped precipitously.  Later it rained a fair amount.  We're not liking this winter season as much as last year's.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas, Earthlings! 

Where ever you are, where ever you're going - Jim and I wish you all the best of the day.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hike in the Tortolitas and Christmas Shopping

Yesterday we set out with the intention to hike from the Camino del Cerro trail head.  It was a Sunday, but we thought it would be ok since they'd all be shopping.  Right?  Hah! Double HAH HAH HAH!  The parking lot only has about 20 spaces and they were all full. The people who live around the parking lot have erected no parking signs everywhere.  They are truly the neighborhood of no.
Since we were all dressed up with nowhere to go, we decided to make the drive to a hike in the Tortolita Mountains.  One reaches the parking lot for this trail system by driving through the gates of the Ritz Carlton and asking the guard working there where one should park.  It's a huge parking lot, with a rest room.  Very civilized!  Unfortunately it's a 25 mile drive from the RV.
It's a gorgeous hike.  After a short flat walk on Wild Burro Trail, we connected with the Upper Javelina Trail.  The Javelina is a fun trail.  Parts of it are packed sand, and parts of it are boulders.  It takes you into the Wild Burro Canyon which is very pretty.

Eventually the trail goes up to a ridge line.  We went back via the spur trail to the resort.  It's a shorter way back, but the descent is the same.  There were a lot of 3 foot step downs.

Isn't this a pretty cactus?  They're all full of water this winter.

It was also our anniversary - 29 years.  We had planned to go out to dinner to mark the occasion, but by the time we got down from the hike, we were both sort of whooped.  We'll go later when our legs aren't so tired.

Today we decided there must be Christmas shopping.  We've been putting it off, but we decided that if there was nothing at all to open on Christmas morning, that we would be sad and pitiful.  It's hard buying presents for each other, we lack for nothing, and the RV is full.  Nothing can come in unless something goes out.   REI saved us, they have socks on sale.  Who doesn't have socks that need replacing?  We left the mall at noon, and it was a good thing.  Traffic volumes were increasing exponentially.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Back to Hidden Trail

The rain is gone, but it's still pretty chilly.  We have a very cold air mass.  Today we went up the Hidden Trail.  We park at the Marriott Resort when we start there.  This is a drainage ditch under the road which has become a wetland after all the rain.  Look bottom left, do you see them?

Here they are.  These are mule deer.  The resort has large red and white signs forbidding hunting on their property, so these guys are safe from the hunters.  December and January are bow hunting season in the Tucson Mountain Park.  I am not morally opposed to hunting, without it we would be up to our navels in deer.  However, every year I really question the wisdom of allowing hunting in a park full of hikers and mountain bikers.  Hopefully the bow hunters have good aim and don't puncture a hiker.

It was a beautiful day in the desert.

These are the remains of the Bowen Homestead.  The wretched vandals are destroying the right most fireplace.  I think we should bring back the Code of Hammurabi when dealing with these little monsters.

In the category of  "it's always something" the Fantastic vent in the bathroom has started turning itself off and on at random.  Jim got up at 1:30 this morning and it was running.  Would it be asking too much to get through a winter without something breaking? We have a manual work around, but it's sort of a pain to keep raising and lowering that thing with the manual crank. 
Other than a few pictures and whining about a vent fan, this is all I have, maties.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Saga of Seattle's Deep Bore Tunnel

In 2001 the Nisqually Earthquake hit Seattle.  Our house in West Seattle sustained some damage.  There was enough movement to slosh the water out of the upstairs toilet and send a couple of dressers to the floor.  The brick chimney did not fall down so we were very happy about that.
The worst part of the earthquake was the traffic.  The Alaskan Way Viaduct is a double decker elevated highway built in the 1950s.  It settled ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH and was closed for observation and stabilization.  While the Viaduct was closed, we could not leave West Seattle.  Traffic was totally gridlocked.  The 100,000 cars a day that used the viaduct were shunted to I5, thus making it impossible for traffic to exit the West Seattle Bridge, thus backing traffic up into the neighborhoods.
Politicians and business leaders decided that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.  There were several options on the table; rebuild the viaduct, tear down the viaduct and build surface streets, or dig a tunnel for a new highway.  As I recall, the tunnel was voted down twice, but that was the option that was chosen.  This is a state highway, yet the citizens of Seattle were voting on it.  Eventually the state chose the tunnel.  The question of who will pay for the inevitable cost over runs is unanswered, they may be billed to the citizens of Seattle.
The project requires the use of the largest deep bore tunneling machine ever built in the history of the world to dig a two mile tunnel.  This would be a tunnel in a geologically unstable area, through fill.

What could go wrong?
  • The boring machine traveled 1,000 feet and seized.  
  • A "rescue" pit had to be dug to get to the drill.
  • Mass quantities of water have to be pumped from the pit being dug to rescue the drill. 
  • Removal of that much water is causing surrounding brick buildings to sink; foundations and walls are cracking.
  • The "de-watering" has caused the Alaskan Way Viaduct to settle TWO INCHES.  TWO!!!!  And yet, the the contractor, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Seattle City Council assure us that all is well.
As former Seattle citizens we follow the trials of Bertha (the affectionate name for the drilling machine) with keen interest.  There are several good articles in the independent press on the subject.  This article hits the high points of how we got to the crash site. It's worth reading if you're interested in civic dumbness.  This article is also interesting.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baby it's Cold Outside

We're cold!  Yes, I know that where ever you are it's colder than here, but we're cold.  It did rain Saturday.  Sunday was too cold to ride, so we hiked.  It was a glorious (albeit cold) day.  We did both sides of Hidden Trail, so we were able to get a lot of up down up down.  It's really pretty out there, especially after a rain.

Today we rode out towards Anklam and then down Camino de Oeste.  We stopped at Christopher Columbus park for a nosh.  I love that ride, there is a long sweeping downhill that is just a hoot.

This is a fishing lake at Christopher Columbus park.  Notice the fisher guy on the left and the big white bird on the right.  Fisher dude had just walked briskly over to his pole right in front of the bird who just stood there looking at him.  Usually birds won't tolerate people.  He just stood there looking at the fisher guy.  We wondered if fisher guy had been feeding the big white bird bait, or tiny fish.

So it looks like we're going to be having a cold wet December.  After the perfection of last winter, I am feeling very aggrieved about this. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Another Good Sunset

We're getting clouds from the giant storms that hit the GPNW and California.  They make for good sunsets.  Looks like we'll also have rain tomorrow.  It's kind of a bummer because it's the 4th Avenue Street Fair.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fantasy Island

We went out to Fantasy Island today.  The trails have undergone some remodeling from all the rain last September.  It's important to be paying close attention when riding because the channels of rubble have moved within the single track.
We had pretty cool skies today.

When we left the RV park this was in the middle of our intersection.  They're digging a giant hole in the road.

Shortly after arriving at the parking lot of Fantasy Island, we were hailed by a man walking his bicycle up the road.  His chain had broken and he was hoping we had a chain tool.  We did!  We've been carrying it around in the Camelbak for four years and have never used it.  It was good that we had it.  He had a long ride ahead of him. 

The bridge is still there, and still looks to be sturdy.  There is one loose board but that's all.  The exit has more rubble in it than last year.

While we were looking at the bridge, Jim spotted a fake rock in the brush, with a sword stuck in it.  The mountain bikers brought Excalibur to the desert.  Jim, being pure of heart, was able to pull out the sword with little effort.

When we got home, this is what we saw. There is a big black and red thing being put into the hole.  I have no idea what that is.  Water? Electrical?  Who knows.

There is a huge construction project on Valencia, east of I19 and almost to Rita Ranch.  If you're planning on riding your bike there, think again.  One lane has been dug up, and there are multiple lane shifts on the existing road.  There is zero shoulder anymore, so riding there is going be life threatening.
It's possible that it will rain here this weekend after a windy Friday.  Given what's happening in the GPNW (monster storms on the way) it's not that surprising that we'll be brushed by low pressure.  It's still better here, than there.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Return to Hugh Norris

It was just about two years ago that we first hiked the Hugh Norris trail.  Apparently we really did not like it, since we haven't been back since.  It's a gorgeous beautiful hike.  The down side to it is the stairs.  Someone went to great effort and expense to construct about a mile's worth of stairs.  They're beautifully done, but they are hard on the knees, especially the tall ones when you're coming back down.

This is about 2.5 miles into the hike, this is where we stopped today.  It was getting late so we decided we'd do an hour out and turn around.  It was enough.  Those stairs!

This part of the Tucson Mountain park is really pretty.  It's definitely the glamour side of the mountains.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hiking, Biking and the Cascadia Subduction Zone

Greetings Earthlings!  How goes it in your respective climates?  The talking weatherheads are muttering about rain tomorrow.  We'll see.  It would be good if it happened, it's been awhile since the spring wild flower bloom has been any good.  December rains are required for the wild flowers to bloom.  The steenking yellow trees bloom no matter what.
We've been hiking and biking.  Here is a saguaro that bit the dust over the summer.  I hate it when they fall down.  It's like seeing the giants of the desert being felled.

There are still butterflies in the area.  We walked by this bush and startled a bunch of them.  There were also blue and yellow ones flying around.  This guy is the only one who sat still long enough for a picture.

Today was the first ride up Gates Pass.  I did better this year than last.  I'm still having to use my easiest gear, but I did not stop at all on the climb.  I'm declaring victory.

In other news, this is interesting, especially if you live on the west coast.  This is from an article on  A joint team of Canadian and Japanese researchers have been dropping listening devices around the subduction zone.  It's very quiet.  There should be grinding and popping of the two tectonic plates rubbing against each other, but there's not.  The fear is that the plates are locked, and when they do pop, will result in an earthquake of magnitude 9.  This may result in new water front property being formed. 

Other that this paltry offering maties, I have nothing else to report.